2012 Programs

ED at piano

Painting by Elizabeth Pols

"My Business is to Sing"

See a preview!

Thursday, June 7, 2012
"My Business is to Sing":  A Film Premiere

Time:  7:30 pm
Location: Amherst Cinema Center, Amity Street, Amherst
Fee: $5 general public;
$4 for members of the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Amherst Cinema Center and the Amherst Historical Society

Join us for the premiere of the new film "My Business is to Sing," produced by Ernest Urvater and written and narrated by Susan Snively.  The 40-minute film demonstrates how the music of Dickinson's time gave life to her poetic voice. The film features hymns, popular songs, brass bands, ballet, concert pieces, and opera, as well as a song by composer Alice Parker. Nineteenth-century art, the natural world, and images from her home bring to life the poet's "Titanic Operas."

From early childhood, the poet played "moosic," took piano and singing lessons, and later improvised her own "weird and beautiful melodies" to entertain her family and friends. Using the meter and rhyme of hymns and ballads for her own artistic purposes, Dickinson expressed complex emotions and ideas, and remarkable images, in her revolutionary "songs."

"My Business is to Sing" is based on Carolyn Cooley’s 2003 book, The Music of Emily Dickinson’s Poems and Letters and is the third in a series, "Angles of a Landscape: Perspectives on Emily Dickinson," which explores little-known aspects of Dickinson's life and work The first film in the series, "The Poet in Her Bedroom" (2008), offers a general introduction to the poet and her work. The second film, "Seeing New Englandly" (2010), explores the poet’s education, her lifelong interest in science and literature, her fascination with the search for the Northwest Passage, her response to the Civil War, and her despair when serious eye problems threatened her with blindness.  "The Poet in Her Bedroom" was written by Terry Y. Allen; "Seeing New Englandly," by Susan Snively. The producer for the entire series is Ernest Urvater.

The first two films are available now through the Museum shop; the third will be available at the premiere as well as in the Museum shop.